Ryan Whitehead, technical creative with XR Media Group, poses with his Emmy Award for XR Media Group’s virtual production on Red Bull Rampage. (Photo - Ryan Whitehead)

West Kelowna start-up wins Emmy for virtual production on Red Bull Rampage

XR Media Group won the Outstanding Digital Innovation Award

A West Kelowna startup company is making waves in the tech sector after taking home some hardware at the 41st annual Sports Emmy Awards in August.

XR Media Group works in extended reality, which is an umbrella term for augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality, all bundled into one.

With app development, production and broadcast capabilities, XR Media helps larger brands make their immersive ideas a reality.

“It’s always a mixed bag of technologies that we use to bring these experiences to life,” said Ryan Whitehead, technical creative with XR Media Group.

“Whether it’s for live broadcast or an app, we kind of step in as those professionals, and help produce the projects.”

On Aug. 11, the West Kelowna startup received the Outstanding Digital Innovation Award for its virtual production on Red Bull Rampage, an annual invitation-only freeride mountain bike competition held near Zion National Park in Virgin, Utah.

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Red Bull TV used XR Media Group to enhance the live broadcast by integrating augmented reality. They also built an interactive augmented reality app experience on Android, iOS.

Through the experience, consumers could see through the lens of the mountain bikers from a tabletop mountain.

“Essentially, we did a photogrammetry scan of the mountain to create a digital twin asset of the (Red Bull mountain),” said Whitehead.

“Once we had that model, we were able to plot the rider lines down the mountain and create an immersive (augmented reality app) where users could project the course onto their coffee table. It gives people at home a visual extension of the story of where these riders are going in detail.”

Using immersive technology, users could explore the lines from their living room, experience the competition from the rider’s perspective, move around the course, zoom in and experience exclusive content.

“There’s a lot we can do with this technology,” said Whitehead. “For example, some music concerts have dragons land on top of the stadium, but we were using this tech in a sporting event, and we wanted to maintain authenticity to the event and not just try and make it be flashy or distractive.”

While the XR Media team wasn’t able to receive the Emmy on the red carpet this year, Whitehead said many of his colleagues got together to stream the event and even had a zoom call with members of Red Bull to celebrate together.

“It’s a huge deal. We’re a first-year startup and to receive recognition of this type lets us know we’re heading in the right direction.

“It feels good. It’s an Emmy it’s one of the biggest awards you can get.”

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